Solar System Objects

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Solar System objects are defined in the ssystem.ini file in the data directory. It can be extended to contain comets and asteroids. Here are a few extended ssystem.ini files which you can use. If you want just some of the bodies from one file and some from another, you will have to copy and paste the relevant sections of the various files together into your own ssystem.ini file.

Future versions of Stellarium will contain some sort of method to manage groups of extra bodies, but for now it is manual.



Description Link Date created Description
Hendrik's Comet List here 2008-02-16 This file contains a lot of the brighter comets.
Hendrik's Great Comet List here 2008-02-17 This file contains a bunch more comets, including multiple fragments of Shoemaker-Levy 9.
Selected asteroids here 2008-02-17 (corrected) Some bright and/or large asteroids.
Aditional textures and comets with ssystem.ini here 2010-08-17 An alternative Textures folder.
Complete MPC List here 2008-07-01 (updated monthly) MINOR PLANET CENTER ORBIT DATABASE (MPCORB). This file contains published orbital elements for all numbered and unnumbered multi-opposition minor planets for which it is possible to make reasonable predictions. (See the note bellow)


  • ssystem.ini structure: Your ssystem.ini file must contain all bodies referenced as parent bodies of objects in your ssystem.ini file - you can't say that the moon is in orbit around Earth, and then not have an Earth body - Stellarium will crash if you do this.
  • the MPC list: The current version of Stellarium is not designed to handle the complete list of objects by the Minor Planet Center. So please use this file to copy-paste your preferred objects into your own ssystem.ini file. This list is (automatically) updated regularly to reflect the quickly growing number of known dwarf planets and other small bodies of the solar system. Currently, the (unpacked) file is 140 MB (and growing), so make sure you have an editor which can handle files that large ;-)

Single objects

This section contains code describing some often requested individual objects.

Comet 103P-Hartley

Ephemerides based on JPL's HORIZONS system using 2010-10 as reference date. Special thanks to Ferry. Code is for Stellarium 0.10.5 , add it to your data/ssystem.ini .

name = 103P-Hartley
parent = Sun
coord_func = comet_orbit
radius = 10
oblateness = 0.0
albedo = 1
lighting = true
halo = true
color = 1.0,1.0,1.0
tex_map = nomap.png
tex_halo = star16x16.png
orbit_Epoch = 2455470.5
orbit_SemiMajorAxis = 3.4726656
orbit_Eccentricity = 0.6951420
orbit_Inclination =  13.61768
orbit_AscendingNode = 219.76087
orbit_ArgOfPericenter =  181.19852
orbit_MeanAnomaly = 355.84874

Comet C/2007 N3 (Lulin)

Source: This code has been created by hendrik_d, based on comet ephemerides by the IAU Minor Planet Center, and posted on the Feedback forum on 2009-01-13. The orbital elements may be slightly out of date.

[C\2007 N3 Lulin]
name = C/2007 N3 Lulin
parent = Sun
radius = 10
oblateness = 0.0
halo = false
color = 1.0,1.0,1.0
tex_halo = star16x16.png
tex_map = nomap.png
coord_func = comet_orbit
orbit_TimeAtPericenter = 2454842.1414
orbit_PericenterDistance = 1.212289
orbit_Eccentricity = 0.999987
orbit_ArgOfPericenter = 136.8614
orbit_AscendingNode = 338.5353
orbit_Inclination = 178.3730
lighting = false
albedo = 1
orbit_visualization_period = 10401394706.0

(This is code for Stellarium 0.10.0 and 0.10.1. For version 0.9.1, replace orbit_visualization_period with sidereal_period.)

International Space Station

After version 0.10.3, Stellarium comes with the Satellites plugin which shows the positions of a number of artificial objects in Earth orbit, including the International Space Station.

For previous versions of Stellarium the ISS can be added as a Solar System object. This is strictly a workaround - Stellarium's orbital mechanics module is not designed specifically for satellite tracking. Satellites are small, (relatively) fast, and their orbits are influenced by a lot of factors and change over time, so orbit data should be updated periodically. The Satellites plugin downloads TLE lists from a website, but using the ssystem.ini to add satellites requires manual updates.

This forum thread contains a discussion on how to add the ISS to ssystem.ini:

See also

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